Is the Acer ad sexist?

The ADgenda: this week's most offensive advert.

Ad execs think in statements. Preferably four word punchy sentences, all in capitals. This thought process often leaves subtlety out in the cold, and tricksy terms like gender stereotyping are gleefully discarded, no doubt because they dilute the message and block that crucial blue sky thinking. So, having ditched those pesky complexities of real life at the way side, the execs set about planning the new Acer ad. A point-by-point summary of the strategy meeting follows:

1) Laptops are functional, practical and useful

2) Therefore, laptops are for men. Women don't like laptops

3) How can we make women like laptops?

4) By giving laptops a really feminine and pretty image

5) How?

6) By getting that Megan Fox lass, you know, the one famed for her acting talent the world over showcased inTransformers 1,2,3, etc

6) Yeah! But wait, isn't she mostly popular with drooling young men?

7) True, but she is really really girly, so let's get her to appeal to girls even more and pretend she can speak to dolphins

8) Eeeeeeeeeee! That is SO sweet!

If you thought the end result was crass enough, Fujitsu  Japan clearly didn't agree and decided to go one step further by unveiling the Floral Kiss - a laptop designed specifically for women. The Floral Kiss has a specially designed lid so there's no danger of chipping your perfectly manicured nails, a 'Feminine pink' colour scheme and most importantly - your daily horoscope loaded and ready to be accessed at the touch of a no doubt perfume-scented button. What's that I hear? Ah, it's the dull thump of palms smacking foreheads across the nation.

An Acer laptop. Photograph: Getty Images
Photo: Getty
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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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